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312                                   LIFE  OJF
boldt, lived for some time with the family, at
Home, and saw them again in Paris, in subsequent
Before we accompany Humboldt on his journey to
Spain, we must mention an essay, or letter, which he
sent from Paris to his "Weimar friends, — probably to
Schiller. The essay is. "On the present French tragic
stage/* and was printed anonymously, in a journal
edited by Goethe. It describes the French stage
mannerism, and compares it with that of the German
actor, who, he says, merely continues the work of the
poet— gives the feeling and expression, without at the
same time uniting in himself the talents of the artist
and musician, thus making the character he represents
an independent work of art. The French artist,
on the contrary, exceeds in an opposite direction, and
exaggerates nature ; while the true ideal of repre-
sentative or dramatic art unites the two qualities.,
modifying excess on both sides.
It is probable that the letters which Alexander
wrote from Spain had determined Humboldt to under-
take a journey thither. The events in France made
a stay in Paris daily more inconvenient for foreigners,
while Spain was now again at peace. Madame von
Humboldt wrote home, in February, 1*799, — "At
latest my return to Berlin will be in about a year and
a ha]£ Our plans are so. End of next month we
leave this place. I shall stay in the Pyrenees with
the children during the "summer, and Humboldt will,
in the meantime, travel to Madrid, perhaps to Lisbon.
In autumn he will join me again, and then we shall
decide whether we live in Paris for the winter, and
return home by way of England, or whether we can
proceed from the south of France to Italy, and then.
return to Germany through Switzerland* Either of
these plans would bring us home in about eighteen
months/*                                       ^
, The Spanish journey was realized, although later
$han the letter states, and Madame von Hranboldt,
with all the children, accompanied her husband